25 June 2016
At least 20 people have died in huge flood that hit West Virginia, U.S.A. late Friday, state officials say. Amongst the dead was an eight-year-old boy and a toddler.
The boy who was with his grandfather slipped into a flooded creek in Jackson County.
The body of the boy was found after a search for him had gone on for about a day. Meanwhile, the grandfather jumped into the creek to try and save the boy, but was overcome by the rushing water.
Apart from the deaths, officials say hundreds were left stranded and tens of thousands were also left without electricity in what has been described as a historic flood.
According to the governor of West Virginia, Earl Ray Tomblin, the heavy storms and flooding caused widespread damage throughout the state. A state of emergency has since been declared in 44 of the state’s 55 counties.
The flood destroyed more than 100 homes and knocked out power for thousands after a storm system dumped nine inches of rain on parts of the state.
Rescue efforts were underway for about 500 people trapped in a shopping centre while officials continued to search for others stranded in devastated areas.
The heavy rainfall that lasted over six to eight hours prompted the National Weather Service to call it a “one-in-a-thousand-year event”.
“Please continue to work together and support each other as West Virginians always do,” Tomblin pleaded at a news conference where he announced the growing death toll and said about 100 homes had been damaged.
The governor said 200 National Guard soldiers were carrying out search and rescue efforts as well as health and welfare checks in eight counties across the state.
Governor Tomblin called the flooding “among the worst in a century for some parts of the state”.